10/24/2008, 00.00
TURKEY
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European-style reforms save Erdogan from constitutional court ban

In rejecting the request to dissolve the governing party and exclude its leaders from political life, the court had affirmed in July that the AKP is "the focal point of anti-secular activities," but will not be dissolved because it is promoting the reforms requested by the EU, and those in favor of women and non-Islamic minorities.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, the AKP, are involved in anti-secular activities, but have not been banned by the constitutional court, because of their efforts to apply European union reforms and promote the rights of women. The Official Gazette today explained the ruling, according to which in July Turkey's highest legal body rejected the request to dissolve the governing party and ban its leaders from political life, as requested by the attorney general.

The accusation was that the party wanted to change the country from secular to religious, introducing Islamic law, which is contrary to the very foundation of the constitution as established by the father of the country, Kemal Atataturk.

The court acknowledges that the AKP is "the focal point of anti-secular activities" - the reason why it has been deprived of state funding and has received a warning - and that the prime minister, former speaker of parliament Bulent Arinc, and education minister Huseyin Celik "were involved in determined and intense activities" contrary to the article of the constitution that protects state secularism, but because they have promoted the reforms asked for by the EU, and in favor of women and non-Muslim minorities, they have not been banned.

The statements in the ruling could reignite the controversy between the proponents of secularism and the Islamists. A first taste of this could be in the publication, on Wednesday, of the reasons why the court rejected an attempt to overrule the law banning the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in the universities. The pro-Islamic Zaman says that Turkey is moving toward a "juristocracy," quoting an expert on constitutional law who says that "the situation that has emerged today is more compatible with the definition of a juristocratic [administration of judges] regime rather than that of a democratic one."

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